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Your CV or Resume is the single most important document that you will ever need to secure all  your jobs in life. Like it or not, your CV will shape your future. It’s important to take steps that will help you to make yours a winning CV. Let’s explore 13 must take steps to a winning CV.


By Catherine Adenle

Also known as a Curriculum Vitae (CV), the Latin term ‘Curriculum Vitae’ actually translates to ‘Course of Life’. If your CV or resume does not appeal to the reader then it is unlikely to get a second glance. So, ensure that you put the effort in!

These are the 13 must take steps to a winning CV:

To prepare a winning CV, follow these 13 steps to a winning CV as listed below:
1. Compact Resume’s win interviews

When preparing a winning CV, remember the 3Ps, make your CV Professional, Punchy and Pertinent. Your CV must be informative and relevant. It must be punchy too to draw in the attention of the hiring manager. It is important that you highlight only relevant or important points. If your current CV is crammed with pages and pages of text, then edit it to a super succinct 2 page CV.

2. Sell Yourself

If you want your CV to be a winning CV, ensure that it sells your skills. Blow your own trumpet throughout your CV in terms of your character, skills, experience and achievements. Showcase your skills in apt keywords.

3. Work Experience

List your employment in reverse order – chronological order, starting with your most recent role first.  Focus upon jobs held and experience gained during the past five/ten years and include the rest in a brief list form.

For each of your detailed employment entries, you should begin the description by offering 10-20 words on what the company actually do – If a recruiter knows what kind of environment you were working in, then the rest of the description will make twice as much sense to them. Give a positive description of your role and objectives within the job. Be sure to mention any equipment or systems you became adept at using.

4. Achievements

These are evidences that you are the best person for the job – think about the achievements and experience that you have gained within each post and insert them in bullet-point form after the job description for each post.

Think carefully about these key points and write them in a punchy manner. If possible, use facts, figures and statistics to give a particular achievement more solid backbone.

5. Education

On a winning CV, where you place information about your education depends on the amount of work experience that you have gained after gaining any official qualifications, such as BA/HND/Cs and any other Degrees.

A recent graduate’s CV, for example, will go straight into education after the profile section, whereas a seasoned professional should list educational qualifications after their employment history, typically on the second page of their CV.

Wherever you place your education section, you should be sure to structure it so that it shows your most important qualifications first, listing qualification grade and where you studied.
If you have room, you may also wish to include details of the subjects or modules studied and brief details of your final dissertation, if any. You should include details such as places of study and dates, as this information adds credibility to your qualifications.

Curriculum Vitae

Image by the Italian voice via Flickr

6. Contact Details and Address

Include every possible contact method at your disposal, including your mobile number, land-line telephone number and a professional email address.
Always put this information right at the top, slightly smaller than your main body text, but not so small as to be difficult to read. This places your contact details within ‘easy reach’, but does not distract the reader too much from the profile and other main body sections.7. Spelling and Grammar
Never overlook spelling and grammar – just one mistake can put the reader off and consequently your otherwise dazzling CV could end up in the bin. No employer would be keen to employ someone who cannot be bothered to correct a few spelling and grammatical errors in a two or three-page document, because such lack of attention to detail does not speak well of the candidate.

For a winning CV, the advice here is to simply check and double-check. Get another pair of eyes, – your colleague, a mentor, your friends and family to read your CV once it is complete, as a fresh look or perspective can often identify mistakes that would otherwise have escaped your notice.

8. Tailor your CV to suit the job

For all your CVs, be sure to adjust the profile, employment history and achievements to more relevantly reflect the specification of the job that you are applying for. If you want a winning CV, you must not use one CV for all.

Tweaking your CV, will give it an enhanced credibility and suitability. Examine the advertisement or job specification carefully, highlight the skills required and ponder the qualities sought by the prospective employer. Match your CV and its content to the requirements of the particular job. You can do this by highlighting those aspects of your experience that have the greatest relevance to the requirements of the job.

9. Hobbies and Interests

You should insert this information near the end of your CV, as a small paragraph of text. Remember; keep it short, simple and positive. No one cares if you can drink five pints of beer within five minutes.

10. References

You can choose to list or not list any references on your CV. Your experience and suitability alone should decide whether you are called in for interview. However, if not listed, you must include a statement to let your potential employer know that references will be provided if required and take details of referees to your interviews, as this is the most likely point when a prospective employer may require them.

11. Choose the Right Format

No matter what sector your chosen career may lie, your CV will fall into one of the following CV types formats.

  • Graduate
  • Standard
  • Executive/Management
  • Total Career Changer

Decide which category you fall into and stick to the general format suggested by the examples in this blog site or see the embedded links below. For example, a graduate CV would have its own unique format, placing greater importance on qualifications by listing these first after the profile. In contrast, an executive CV would list the employment history first, as work experience is generally of greater importance to positions of this level.

12. Recruiters and Keywords

When sending your CV into a recruitment organisation on speculative basis, it is worth remembering that quite often your details will be stored electronically on to a database. For this reason, be sure to think carefully about what area you are likely to be searched on in the career type you seek. The more specific your skill base the easier this is to achieve, for example, if you seek a career in publishing or media the more times you include the words ‘publishing or media’ onto your CV the likelier you are to come up on a search. Do not overdo it; otherwise, your CV will become repetitive. Try not to compromise the overall effect of your CV.

13. Do’s & Don’ts:

This quick, point-by-point guide will assist you in assessing your current CV and remedy any common mistakes that are committed:

  • Do format your CV correctly and make it 2pp.
  • Do have a simple and conventional layout
  • Do keep information concise and accurate.
  • Do use ‘action’ words when describing positive achievements and contributions.
  • Do attempt to seek another person’s professional opinion and advice where possible.
  • Do tweak your CV to suit the job that you are applying for.
  • Do spell-check! Read, read and read your CV


  • Don’t date your CV.
  • Don’t add  ‘Curriculum Vitae’ on top of your CV as its title
  • Don’t exceed two pages.
  • Don’t mention salaries earned or required unless you are asked to add them.
  • Don’t include information regarding age, political and religious affiliations.
  • Don’t mention specific information regarding your race unless asked.
  • Don’t include a photograph – in most cases, your stunning good looks will not be an issue for job selection.
  • Don’t give reasons for leaving previous positions – if an interviewer wants to know, they will ask at the interview.

See a sample Video CV: Good elevator (ish) speech.


If you find this article useful, see the others in this category –

Free CV Templates From Monster
5 Power Words to make Your CV Get Noticed
Top 3 CV Formats: Which one is right for you?
Honesty is the best policy on CVs

How to write a resume

Remember, CV writing is something that almost everyone will have to do at some point in their life whether it is your first job or you are changing careers. Be sure to show off your skills and experience and secure that all important interview. Focus on the positive aspects of your experience and qualifications and highlight the skills that you have learnt. It doesn’t need to be fancy or colourful but should stand out because of its content instead.

Keep It Simple,  Focus On Your Skills, Tailor It For Each Job and Play Up The Positives

Your CV is your chance to prove why you are the best person for the job so play up the positive and focus on your skills.  Companies receive hundreds of CVs so make yours stand out for all the right reasons.

Do you have any other tips to add? Let’s hear from you.

Catherine Adenle
Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping all career-minded people worldwide to explore their career, manage change and understand how new technologies are changing and enhancing the future of work.
Catherine Adenle
Catherine Adenle

Latest posts by Catherine Adenle (see all)

4 thoughts on “13 Must Take Steps to a Winning CV

  1. Great post! Create a specific section of your professional experience. In the section list down your past work experience with details of your job profile. Do mention your achievements and significant contributions made in the field and in the growth of your previous employer.

    Use keywords like media advertising, copy writing, managing team, producing films, direction, and print media. All these work as specialized tools to market your worth in the advertising industry.

  2. I love this post! Very interactive, concrete, straight to the point- amazing! I’ve found myself reading more and more blog posts and I’m always happy when I bump into such post. With tips&tricks I’ve collect through them and also through attendance to some of the webinars such as those organized by I’m sure I’ll soon have winning CV myself! Thanks once again for the great post!

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